The Heartbreaking Story Of Joe Walsh’s Father Who Died In Vietnam

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The Eagles’ Joe Walsh has been a gold star child of a veteran family since he was two years old. After losing his father at a very young age, his stepfather adopted the successful singer and guitarist. Even though he doesn’t remember his father at all, his death became his earliest influence.

Joe’s father, Lt. Robert Newton Fidler, was an Airforce instructor for the Lockheed F-8 Shooting Star in the US Air Force. Unfortunately, in 1949, he crashed with another plane in flight and passed away. The two-year-old baby was left fatherless until his mother remarried three years later. His stepfather adopted him and changed his last name, yet, he kept his old last name as a middle name, becoming known as Joseph Fidler Walsh.

Joe Walsh’s Words About His Late Father

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In 2020, Walsh gave an interview to Rolling Stone and talked about his late father. While expressing his longing for him, he also spoke about becoming a soldier and serving in the Vietnam war. His sympathy towards the gold-star families was apparent as he can empathize with those who lost a family member while they were fighting for their country.

Here is how he began talking about his father:

“I guess the foundation of it all is that I am the gold-star kid the symbol acknowledging that a member of one’s family was killed in war as a member of the armed forces. My dad died when I was two; he was in the Army Air Corps before there was an Air Force.”

He continued to state that even though he had a good relationship with his stepfather, who supported him all the time, he still thought about his biological father, whom he had never met. He called him a hero and continued to express his sympathy towards the families who went through the same thing.

“I have a stepfather, who I love, who is always having my back, but until I got a stepfather, I just always wondered if my dad approved of me. I just miss my dad, like everybody, to throw a ball with, pick him up as a role model. He’s always been my hero. A lot of those who don’t come back from the war – it’s an awful feeling. I see the courage and sadness that gold-star families have, and I just couldn’t help but feel a part of it.”

As he toured the country throughout his career, his awareness of the veterans’ conditions increased, and he talked about the veteran organizations that help and fund those families in need. He highlighted the importance of being active with the veterans and their families as it is not a topic to underestimate.

Here are Walsh’s words about the veterans:

“The other thing is that in touring around the country, I have come across, between the coasts in the middle of the country – if you are a vet in Iowa in a small town, nobody understands where your head’s at. And nobody understands that you came back different than when you went. But I come across small vet-run organizations, dispersed to the Midwest, run by vets, that are like help centers – or crisis centers, or just a clubhouse – and not isolated, coming together. It seems to be strategic – and keeping the vets from going dark and worse.

And these little organizations are not funded, they don’t have a budget. And what VetsAid does is – check them out, make sure that they are real, make sure they are tax-exempt, and keep them going. And across the board, I think we have to pay more attention and be more active with our vets.

Did Joe Walsh Serve The United States During The Vietnam War?

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Walsh didn’t have to serve the country during the Vietnam War because of the ‘Private Ryan Law,’ which prevents those who have lost a family member during service from enlisting. The Vietnam war started in 1955 and lasted until 1975. According to Walsh, the protests against it were misunderstood by the government. Even though he didn’t serve in the war, he thought it was a shame the government didn’t pull back the US troops.

Here is what he stated about the Vietnam war and his enlistment:

“I had a 1-F draft classification, and it’s the Private Ryan law – I am the sole surviving son in the family where my father was killed in active duty, and the movie ‘Private Ryan’ was all about that. I was exempt because I am the sole surviving son in the family. I would have rather gone to Vietnam hadn’t my father, and I say that sincerely.

I don’t feel guilty about not going to Vietnam. What I feel guilty about is that my generation was protesting the war, and we wanted to bring the troops home. And that was totally misunderstood, misconstrued by the government. So when Vietnam started, we didn’t like them because they were killing people, and that wasn’t the case. I’ve always felt bad and guilty about that, that’s a shame that happened. And I was at Kent State, that’s where I went to school, and we just wanted to bring the troops home. Period.”

You can watch the 2020 interview below.